Archive for March, 2008

8.09.2007 7588.jpg

Originally uploaded by trenthead

This hot up in Washington re the Crandall Canyon Mine.  Here is the link to the just-issued report from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General–Office of Audit.  The report is called “MSHA could not show it made the right decision in approving the roof control plan at Crandall Canyon Mine.”

I have not yet read the 80 pages, so no comment from me.  But the Google news and other blog items are begining to erupt, so take a look at your favorite, trusted resources and sites.  That from the Salt Lake Tribune is brief but informative.  The report from kutv.com is longer but not in depth.

The two blog postings I found simply trot out the ususal litany of incompetence we have all become too familiar with.  Nothing new or insightful there.  In fact it is probably impossible at this time to say anything new and insightful about this dreadful case. 

Personally I just recommend voting them all out of office and starting with a fresh slate.   For the rest, leave it to the lawyers, they may get to the guilty whom we cannot vote out.

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“I was obliged to go to Cuba in early February to prepare an article about Sherritt International.” Thus begins the editorial in the February 2008 issue of the Canadian Mining Journal. 

Clearly Jane Werniuk had some misgivings.  She writes further: 

There were a few surprises.  A lack of advertising for anything at all except the Revolution and its Heroes and Martyrs.  The array of vehicles….horse and human-drawn and the hundreds of patient hitchhikers…including soldiers in uniform.

The customs agents in both Cuba and Canada took more than a casual interest in me as a journalist on a quick turn-around trip to Cuba, a country where the press has no freedom…we could report on something that would be embarrassing, I suppose. 

First a picture of a truck at the Cuba mine of Sherritt of Canada: 


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This weekend I went to a local production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Patience.  That has nothing to do with mining you may say; but I reply that it was one of the first and most popular productions at the new Leadville opera house in the 1800s–the miners apparently flocked to see this strange picture of human silliness and love.  Thus in honor of the old miners’ apparent enjoyment of the different, I note these reports from today’s web:

 (But first a picture of Lady Jane bemoaning her advancing age–from Flickr)


Canadian miners take luxury train to Tibet to promote mining.  In a Globe and Mail report we read of plans to go to Tibet in the utmost luxury to develop new mines that will help the locals. It is not specified what help will be proffered to the locals or enjoyed by the locals as the Canadians arrive en masse to bring the benefits of the Toronto and Vancouver stock exchanges to monks who presumably would simply like to see the Chines gone, not the Canadians arrive.  Still a PDAC MOU might bring them invaluable benefits?

Bolivian miners worship the devil in the mine and God above-ground.  In a nicely written article we read of a church to the devil deep in a Bolivian salt mine.  You need to read this to believe it.  Here is part:


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In addition to this blog, I write serious engineering stuff for TechnoMine.  Every-so-often there comes across my desk a technology or engineering application that makes it into the serious stuff…and very infrequently I post here something about a technology or product.  The basis of such is decision is just that that is what I feel like doing. 

Here is information about one such company that came across my desk.  It caught my eye when I notice the addresses: Glendale and La Canada in California.  Many years back I frequented those places with now good memories. 

About the mining-related part of its business, their web sites says:


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Casinos are fascinating places.  In Las Vegas, the Strip and the old downtown are a visual delight of glitz & glamor.  Every fountain, every tower, every plaza (indoors and out) is a place to stare and dream.  But that amazement is not at the casino next to the shopping mall in downtown Fort McMurray. 

I am told that local charities take turns running things at this Fort McMurray casino in exchange for funds—improbable as that sounds.  Outside the casino are scores of last nations people: skinny, wrinkled-faced, bowed shoulders hunched over a last-seeming cigarette.  Inside the slot machine scene is as sad as any Las Vegas casino, with fat ladies chained to machines that eat coins and colored paper for an occasional spit-out of promised riches.  This, as everywhere, is a field of blank, bamboozled faces and mechanical arms.  I fled across the snow and sand drenched parking lot to the lighter side of life that Blockbuster represents. 


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He was short and old and very nervous. As we landed in the snow onto a white runway, he looked out and said: “This is my first time here and I don’t know what will happen.”

I felt for him, for so many time I have gone somewhere new, alone, and afraid. 

He told me he had come from Nova Scotia, Canada, to drive a truck taking hazardous waste from the oil processors to the disposal site.  He had spent the winter building ice roads to the north, but now spring had come and no more; and there was no work back in Nova Scotia.  Somebody had paid $800 for his flight to bring him in to work – they are desperate for drivers.  But he said: “I have tried so many  times to get a job with the oil sands mines, and never a reply.” 

His story echoed that of the young girl who drove me last week from the airport to the rental car pickup place.  She had come with her father from a logging town in Saskatchewan when he was laid off.  And now both have good jobs driving people to and fro. 

Then there was the young man from Newfoundland who followed his girlfriend here and is going to drive buses, make money, marry her, and carry her off to live happily ever after in Vancouver.  I just nodded my head in amazed and impressed agreement.

When in Fort McMurray, one should write of oil sands mining, for this is the world capital of oil sands mining.  But why, when the human story is everywhere? The sheer guts of them all!  The innocence, fear, courage, and determination.  This is the essence of mining towns and mining people, and those who make mining communities.   Even including the tiny waitress this evening who lost my receipt in an over-crowded place, and looked at me as crazy when I told her that any old piece of paper would do to keep the accountants happy.  You simply do not find them that hard working and naïve in the big cities.  Nor do you find them that happy to help, please, and serve. 

This may not be sustainable development, but it sure testifies to the human spirit and ability to adjust and succeed.  I am proud to be here.

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An article from a liberal magazine to make the heart of a true conservative mining man happy?  There is one I read today.  Here is the link to the HARPER’S MAGAZINE  article The next bubble: Priming the markets for tomorrow’s big crash. 

From flickr at this link.

The article is long and the part that makes the conservative happy is near the end.  The mining man has to read through to the end to decide how to make money on this predicted, next bubble—now that the housing one has burst.  And the investor has to read to work out how to avoid getting hurt—if they learnt anything from the dot.com and housing bubbles.  Enjoy.

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